Showing posts with the label Superhero

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir: Pire Noël (2016)

If you like crazy Christmas stuff the way we do, or if you like zany superhero/magical girl hijinks, you should probably go ahead and see if you can find a copy of this on YouTube. This was a ton of fun. Miraculous (for short) is a CG show from France about two superhero teenagers. Marinette is an aspiring fashion designer, and she transforms into Ladybug. Adrien is a young fashion model, and his superhero identity is Cat Noir. They don’t know each other’s secret, which leads to a classic secret identity plotline where Marinette has a crush on Adrien, but Cat Noir has a crush on Ladybug. Their powers come from little (alien?) creatures and are channeled through items known as the Miraculouses: Marinette’s earrings and Adrien’s ring. There is a villain (Le Papillon in the original French) who wants to steal these items. In each episode, the villain senses someone feeling a strong negative emotion (anger, fear, jealousy, etc.) and sends an evil butterfly to possess them. That’s wha

Toy Review: Batman Automobilia No. 78: Batman: Arkham Origins Video Game

This is the second die-cast vehicle I've looked at for Mainlining Christmas, the first being the Batman: Noel Batmobile . These are part of an impressively large line of monthly Batman vehicles from Eaglemoss Collectibles. The line represents stories from all forms of media: comics, the campy 1966 series, various animated incarnations of Batman, and (obviously) video games. While Batman might not be the first character you think of when you hear Christmas music, he's had his share of holiday misadventures, including the 2013 video game, Batman: Arkham Origins . I was a big fan of the game, so I was excited when Eaglemoss produced a toy version of the Batwing. Let's start with the magazine. In lieu of actual packaging, each of these comes with a magazine. Actually, I'm a little unclear whether the vehicle or the magazine is technically the accessory, but I doubt anyone shells out $20 for the ten page pamphlet. As always, this include fold-out schematics and s

Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight! (2015)

I haven't seen enough recent animated programming from Marvel to know whether or not this 73 minute special is in continuity with Avengers Assembled and the like, but I have seen enough to know I don't care. The last generation of Marvel cartoons - Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Spectacular Spider-man, and the short-lived Wolverine and the X-Men - was fantastic, but it all got cancelled when Disney took over. While Mickey has been a great overlord for Marvel's comics, movies, and live-action productions, their animated series have been far less impressive. This bizarre holiday special does not reverse that trend. To be fair, it has an intriguing premise - Santa Claus, re-imagined as a half-elf/half-ice giant who delivers gifts to all the nine realms, is being hunted by Loki, who's trying to steal his powers. In the right hands, this could have been a fun, zany adventure. But these are not the right hands. It's pretty clear the people making this wante

Ben 10: Merry Christmas (2006)

This is the first episode of Ben 10 Lindsay and I have seen, though I was mostly familiar with the premise going in. A kid has the power to transform into ten different aliens, so he uses his abilities to fight various threats. I hadn't realized the series took place during a cross-country vacation in his grandfather's RV. I'm fairly certain that's intended as a nod to the 70's Shazam series . Ben Tennyson is more than a little reminiscent of Billy Batson, who could likewise call upon otherworldly powers and transform. This series is more or less an update. This episode begins on a hot summer day while Ben, his grandfather, and his cousin, Gwen (also a series regular - apparently, she uses magic in some other episodes) are driving through Death Valley. After a failed attempt to improve the air conditioner, the RV breaks down. They find a strange door in the desert with cool wind blowing through the cracks. When they go through, they find a wintery town decorat

Arrow: Year's End (2012), Three Ghosts (2013), The Climb (2014), and Dark Waters (2015)

This is one of those times I stumbled across a few Christmas episodes while watching a series. I saw Arrow's pilot back when it originally aired. I actually liked it quite a bit on its own merits, but was underwhelmed by the move away from comic book tropes. It felt like a really good dark and gritty take on a superhero origin, but I'd kind of had my fill of those. I decided not to follow it but to pick it up later if I heard it was worth it. What actually got me back on board was The Flash, which was much more in line with what I wanted from the genre. A handful of crossovers convinced me Arrow would head in a more interesting direction given time. Besides, like I said before, the pilot was actually quite good for what it was. Years End (2012) The first Christmas episode occurs a little less than halfway through season one. The season started strong with a few missteps. But a few episodes before Christmas, it took a dive for the worst, and this one doesn't do muc

Batman Automobilia No. 61: Batman: Noel

Eaglemoss Collections has been producing a line of die-cast Batman vehicles for a while now. I own a handful I've picked up over the past two years to supplement my collection of Batmobiles. This one's getting special attention, however, because the design is lifted from the story, Batman: Noel, a re-imagined version of the Christmas Carol which wedges the Dark Knight into the Scrooge role. I'll get back to the car in a moment. First, it comes with a very short magazine. It's only ten pages long, counting the four-page fold-out in the middle, but it's heavy stock. The content is intended to provide both information about the car itself and the context of the character at the time. I like the blueprints, though some of the text in here is a bit absurd. Passages like, "This was a Batmobile designed to handle the snow and ice of a seemingly endless winter." Likewise, there's a complete breakdown of all the crime-fighting gizmos built into the

The Flash: Running to Stand Still (2015)

Watching Christmas episodes in context is a very different experience than tuning in for just a seasonal outing. Unlike most of what we review on this blog, The Flash is a show I watch religiously - it's a fantastic program that delivers classic superhero adventures on the small screen. If you're a comics fan and you're not watching, you owe it to yourself to get caught up. This is one of the best. I talked about the first Flash Christmas episode last year. Like that one, this primarily exists because the show unfolds in real time, and Central City - like everywhere else - celebrates the holidays. That doesn't mean they didn't go all-out for Christmas, though: even for a series where a psychic gorilla has a recurring role, this one just pushed the limits in terms of genre tolerance. When I say "genre tolerance," I'm talking about its willingness to incorporate tropes and tones from its source material. There are things you do in comics and anima

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: It's a Wonderful Smash (2014)

Remember a few years ago, when Marvel animation was at its peak? In a relatively short period of time, we got Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-Men, and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, all great shows. Then something went wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. Overall, the Disney acquisition of Marvel was a plus. It gave them more money to produce movies and live-action TV series, and the comics actually seem to have benefited. But the quality of their animated programs plummeted. Guess that's the price we have to pay. This, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Avengers Assemble all appear to be in continuity with each other. And, from what I've seen so far, all of these shows suck. To be fair, I've only seen two episodes of Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and one was the pilot. But the premise was misguided to begin with, and nothing I've seen suggests they're able to salvage the show. This episode is, of course, the Christmas one. It opens on Christmas Eve, when t

Graphic Novel Review: Batman: Noel

For a dark avenger, there are a surprising number of famous Batman Christmas stories, including well regarded episodes from several animated series , a holiday movie , and even a video game . There have been quite a few Christmas comic issues, as well, over the years, but you wouldn't expect anything else from a character who's been around for seventy-five years with multiple titles a large portion of that time. One of the more iconic Batman holiday stories in his original medium is Batman: Noel , a graphic novel from 2011 that attempts to adapt A Christmas Carol using the Dark Knight as a stand-in for Scrooge and supporting characters in other roles. This was written and illustrated by Lee Bermejo, who's best known as an artist. After reading Noel , I'm a little torn on whether I think he should have stuck with that. On one hand, there are some great ideas in this story and some clever twists. But there are also a huge number of missed opportunities, poor choi

The Flash: The Man in the Yellow Suit (2014)

It's always nice when you queue up a show you're watching anyway to discover you've got a Christmas episode. Well, it's nice when that happens if you have a holiday-themed blog. I'm guessing it's less thrilling for the rest of you. The Flash is, of course, a relatively new series focusing on Barry Allen, the fastest man alive. The first season has been set in the months immediately after he gains his powers. Before that, he was just a forensic detective obsessed with the traumatic death of his mother, who he saw murdered by a man in yellow lightning moving at super-human speeds. The premise is impressive for a few reasons. Barry's background was pulled right out of the comics and involves a villain named "Reverse Flash," who traveled back in time to encounter Barry at various points in his superhero career. While I'm sure non-geeks were confused as to what the hell was going on, most fans were just shocked they were actually introducing

Static Shock: Frozen Out (2002)

Ugh. I feel for the folks who made this, and the folks who love this character, but I cannot recommend you watch this. It’s incredibly dull. The episode opens with Static bemoaning the busy life of a superhero when he has holiday festivities to attend. Of course, no sooner does he get there, but the power goes out, and he’s off to melt the mysterious ice engulfing the substation. He conveniently ignores the girl on the scene, and then rinse, repeat. Whining, Mysterious Ice, and then he finally figures out it’s the girl. We are treated to some tedious backstory about Permafrost. She lost her mom at a young age and is living on the street. Sad story, right? Not the way it’s animated here. Instead, it’s boring. Static finally goes looking for some information about her and learns her sad story. When she shows up again, he reaches out in compassion, and she agrees to accept help. That should be a good story, but the writing is so pedantic that any emotional impact is muted. It so

The Six Million Dollar Man: A Bionic Christmas Carol (1976)

Let's say you're a TV producer in the 1970's, and you're holding the rights to a science-fiction/spy thriller novel you want to adapt for television. Do you go with the original title of the work, "Cyborg," or do you name it "The Six Million Dollar Man?" That, in a nutshell, is why most TV sucked in the 1970's. This episode opens the day before Christmas. Steve Austin, the Cyborg  Six Million Dollar Man, is sent on a mission to investigate possible sabotage at a company contracted to develop gear necessary for a mission to Mars. Just so no one gets any ideas, no one goes to Mars in this episode. That probably would have been cool. The company's problems, surprisingly, aren't due to sabotage. Instead, they're caused by the owner's adherence to the absolute minimums specified by the contract. Also, he's Scrooge. His name is changed to Budge, but he's clearly Scrooge. He even lives in a mansion built to resemble e

Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)

People have been telling me I have to play the Arkham games since the first one was released. For years, I've heard that they were fantastic, that they offered the experience of being Batman, that the writing and voice acting were great, and so on and so forth. But I just ignored them, not because I thought they were wrong, but because I was worried they might be right. Then, last year, I heard something about the third game in the series that made me pay attention. The story is entirely set on a single night when eight assassins are hired to try and kill Batman. And that night is December 24th. I knew it was just a matter of time. That time, incidentally, was the duration it took for Steam to mark Arkham Origins down to $7.49 during one of their ridiculously amazing sales. I bought it and set out to experience the holiday-fueled mayhem. A few words of warning before I continue. I am not remotely qualified to review video games. I certainly played my share back in the d

Super Santa in Jingle Bell Justice (1998)

I just came across this 7 minute short on Youtube. Stylistically, it feels a lot like Powerpuff Girls, with some great homages to the Adam West Batman and 60's spy shows. I particularly like the super-spy spin on Mrs. Claus, who isn't stuck at the North Pole this time.

Power Rangers Super Samurai: Stuck on Christmas (2012)

There are other Power Rangers Christmas episodes, but this is the one that Erin found on Netflix. It’s a humdinger. I knew something was drastically wrong after the Rangers defeated a monster in the first 5 minutes of the episode. Then their giant robot loses power and it becomes an excuse for a really crummy clip show. You can have no idea how terrible this was. The acting was beyond ridiculous. The ‘comic relief’ was horrible, and the action/drama was hilarious. There is tons of terrible, extraneous Christmas-pun flavored banter. Only it’s not banter when you’re just yelling ‘quips’ (using that term extremely loosely) at a red-and-green monster. Yes, the monster is red-and-green, and has what looks like a giant ear around one shoulder and a mouth on the other. I laughed a lot and very loudly while watching this episode, but it was not at anything that the creators intended to be funny. The kids say over and over how sad they are to be trapped in their giant robot on Christmas

Danny Phantom: The Fright Before Christmas (2006)

This is the second episode of Danny Phantom I've seen, the first being the pilot. Had the pilot been more interesting, I might have watched a few more. The series is about a kid who winds up with ghost powers (flight, phasing, the ability to shoot blasts from his hands for some reason, and a handful of others) in a lab accident. He uses these abilities to battle actual ghosts, like you do. From what I've seen, the show's biggest problem is its uneven tone: the premise leans towards superhero, but the style is aiming for Hanna-Barbara. It's a mix that can work in the right hands (Powerpuff Girls being the obvious example), but this lacks a distinct voice and interesting characters. That's a critique of the series, not the episode. Actually, thanks to a cool premise, "The Fright Before Christmas" sidesteps these pitfalls and delivers something that's actually pretty cool. The episode opens the day before Christmas. Everyone's in the holiday

Code Name: Kids Next Door: Operation N.A.U.G.H.T.Y. (2005)

If you glanced away from Cartoon Network in the mid-00’s, you might have missed Code Name: Kids Next Door . A show about a group of kids who fight as a spy team against corrupt, bumbling and evil adults, it's exactly the sort of premise I loved as a kid. However, given that it premiered when I was was in my 20’s, I always found the premise more fun than the execution. The holiday episode has been on our to-watch list for a while now, and I finally found it on a Cartoon Network holiday compliation DVD. The premise is simple enough on the surface: The KND's arch-enemies (the Delightful Children from Down the Lane) are sick of being on the naughty list, and they're willing to destroy Christmas to get presents for themselves. Where it gets downright odd is that the whole thing is a Marvel comics parody. Tons of minor characters are thrown in as references, Santa's sleigh has a Cerebro-esque interface, and the narration that keeps breaking in (panning out to a page of

Secret Identity (2011)

I saw this on a weekly list of short films at  Ain't it Cool News . I clicked on it because it was about superheroes, but - lo and behold - it turned out it was set at Christmas. It's not what I expected from the premise and title. What it is, beside sweet and well made, is better experienced than explained. So, assuming you've got ten minutes, check it out: "Secret Identity" (2011) from Tyler MacIntyre on Vimeo .

Iron Man 3 (2013)

We've been watching Shane Black movies all month in preparation for this: the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film set at Christmas. I'm reviewing the movie itself over at The Middle Room , but I had some thoughts that felt more at home here. While I'm grateful it lets me talk about the movie here, the holiday backdrop actually seemed a little superfluous to me. The setting was peppered with yuletide references, and there was no shortage of jokes reminding us when the events were occurring. But ultimately, I'm not sure what these accomplished (besides being good for a laugh). I guess there's a case to be made for tone, but I didn't feel the disconnect I got from Die Hard or melodramatic juxtaposition from Lethal Weapon. The fact it was set in winter allowed them to shoot Tony dragging his broken armor through the snow (in Tennessee - in December: something's off here), but not much else. If anything, it almost felt like the movie was set at Christmas to

Itsudatte My Santa! (2005)

Japan has an incredibly bizarre relationship with Christmas. Without getting too involved in the details, the holiday has been appropriated and transformed into something akin to Valentine's Day. That said, they do seem to understand what Christmas means to Europe and America and the concept of Santa Claus. They understand, but they clearly have no problem reinventing it as something completely different, as they did in the two-part OAV, Itsudatte My Santa! I suppose I should mention the first episode is based on a manga. Before we go on, I want to make it clear the episodes we saw were dubbed, not subtitled. Setting aside the fact dubbing is usually pretty bad, it injects an element of uncertainty around whether or not what we saw accurately reflects the original. There were plot points and ideas here that seemed absurdly random, which adds to my skepticism. I tried to find some indication online as to whether this was accurate or not, but I had very little luck one way or t